Forget animation hits, â€˜The Simpsons', â€˜Family Guy', and my personal favourite: â€˜King of the Hill'â€”these are designed for the prime time, adults as well as kids. I'm talking about cartoons of the ilk that used to fill an entire Saturday morning; I'm talking about a magical period for a kid when there was a glut of appealing shows and toys (usually in tandem) that would occupy our weekends and empty our parents' wallets.
The Eighties! He-Man, Thundercats, Superfriends, Bravestarr, Silverhawks, M.A.S.K., Smurfs, Wacky Races, Gem, so many I can't mention them all, and one of the most successful of the lot of them: GI Joe. Despite not being American, having little to know interest in anything military, and still very much enamoured with the occasional cinematic offerings of Star Wars, the adventures of the â€˜Joes' caught me wholeheartedly and cost my poor parents even more money in toys.
Sunbow productions started production on what would eventually be 95 episodes of Joe adventures. Following fairly closely to Marvel Comics writer Larry Hama's characters (he both wrote the comics and the character profiles on the cards of the toys) GI Joe: The Real American Hero, the cartoon, tells the story of an elite and infinitely well-funded unit of the US government who week-by-week prevent our destruction from the terrorist organisation known as Cobra.
This incarnation was far from the first in GI Joe's long history, but it was the most memorable (and culminated in the dubious Stephen Sommers' live action feature in 2009). By combining large ensemble casts both good and evil with modern warfare, gadgets, and a mild science fiction flavour, the series hooked a generation quickly and decisively. The plots are simple, easy for kids to follow, but did attempt to imbue some morals and pro-social messages within. Following in the footsteps of Filmmation's He-man, a summary of the story's point and a moral lesson was tagged to the end of each episode.
The animation itself, like most cartoons of the era, lacks the kinetic energy of modern fare, but is nevertheless detailed, with rich backgrounds and diverse characters throughout. What doesn't hold up so well, as many of the shows from the era don't, are the inconsistent vocal performancesâ€”going far beyond over the top at times, and at other moments evoking a style and class that has all but vanished in today's work. Visually, the show holds up with all its peers, however unlike He-man or Silverhawks, GI Joe tends to appear repetitious a lot faster.
Despite some signs of age in the pacing and design, or the realisation that nostalgic love rarely can get an adult over the line when it comes time to revisit, GI Joe still holds its own against the moronic, over-simplified rubbish being doled out to the new generations. This reviewer may not rush to the TV when that all familiar theme song rings out, but he sure as hell is happy that the Joes, and all their Eighties kin, are preserved on DVD so his own kids can enjoy their magicâ€”a magic long gone.
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital Mono.
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.
- Interviews with Hank Garrett, who voiced Dialtone, and with Larry Houston, the producer and storyboard artist.
- Everyday Heroes: The History of G.I. JOE featurette.
- Knowing Is Half The Battle PSAs.
- Archival Hasbro toy commercials.
Number of Discs: 4 in keepcase packaging.
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